Happy Thanksgiving Who Dat Nation! What is the best way to celebrate the holiday? Watching Saints football of course. The team will play the hated Falcons on Thursday for the second year in a row. Those damn dirty birds served us a huge piece of humble pie just a few weeks ago. Well now it is our turn to give thanks and return the favor at their house. The Saints dominated last year in a 31-17 victory. Drew Brees had four touchdowns and the defense sacked Matt Ryan six times and forced four turnovers.
This game is very crucial for the Saints for many reasons. If they get a win, they will clinch the division for the third straight season. More importantly, it keeps them at pace to have a first round bye and home field advantage for the playoffs. But let us not look ahead and take it game by game. Here is what they need to do Thursday night to keep pushing towards that goal.
Run The Damn Ball
The Saints completely abandoned the run attack in the first game. This is something that needs to be established early and often. Alvin Kamara seems to be back to full health and Latavius Murray is more than capable of running the rock. It seems like Sean Payton will strive away from this part of the offense even when the team has a lead. They cannot put themselves in a deep hole for the lack of running the ball. Not to mention, it will wear down the Falcons defense and keep their offense off the field.
Protect The Investment
Brees was sacked six times by the Falcons who only had seven of them coming into the last game. Terron Armstead will miss this game because of ankle injury and it really hurts. Patrick Omameh came in and did a decent job in his absence. However, we can assure Dan Quinn will have a game plan to attack that side as much as possible. We can hope that Payton will scheme up plays with tight end or backfield help throughout the game to prevent this again. Remember, games are won and lost in the trenches.
Cabin Like Pressure
The Saints defense were only able to get to Ryan one time. They have to do a better job this time around. Ryan is the type of quarterback who does not need a lot of time to burn you, but give him even more and he can beat you with his legs. The defensive line is fully healthy and Atlanta really does not have a great run game. Dennis Allen needs to dial up the pressure like an airplane and contain Ryan all game long. Marshon Lattimore has been limited so far but his presence alone can help the pass rush. This is a game you want your big men to feast.
Phase III: Game Changer
We all know that special teams can be the x-factor in any situation. One big return or blocked attempt can change the momentum instantly. Last week, the Saints punt unit got a turnover off a lucky bounce off a player’s calf. Deonte Harris has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. In that time, the team has missed his dynamic ability to make plays. If he is able to go, it would be a huge boost for the squad. Also, Thomas Morstead has been having an outstanding season. His ability to flip the field will be very crucial if the offense somehow stalls early on.
One factor that may also come to play is the crowd. Atlanta has struggled heavily to even fill the lower bowl of their stadium this season. Who Dat Nation needs to be in attendance and make it feel like a home game for the Saints. You cannot say enough about this fan base. They are the real MVPs and will stand with this team and city through thick and thin. Who Dat!